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Children of the Sun

PRA Records 61014



1. I Wanna Go Home

2. Buttermilk Sky

3. Islands of the Mind

4. Rumfire

5/6 Gold in the Cane

7. I Believe In

8. Children of the Sun

9. Blue Abyss

10. Creole Eyes

11. Albatross Day

Joe Sample - Piano, Fender Rhodes

NDR BigBand - Conductor: Jorg Achim Keller

Nils Landgren - Solo trombone

Thorsten Benkenstein, Ingolf Burkhardt, Claus Stotter, Reiner Winterschladen or Dirk Lentschat - Trumpets, flugelhorns

Dan Gottshall, Klaus Heidenreich, Stefan Lottermann - Trombones

Ingo Lahme - Bass trombone

Fiete Felsch, Peter Bolte, Sebastian Gille, Frank Delle, Bjorn Berger or Gabriel Coburger- Saxophones

Lutz Buchner - Clarinet, bass clarinet (track 7)

Stephen Diez - Guitar

Ingmar Heller - Bass

Steve Gadd - Drums

Marcio Doctor - Percussion

Pianist and composer Joe Sample, best known for his work with jazz-funk band, Jazz Crusaders, died in September, 2014 at the age of 75. This recording with the NDR BigBand in Hamburg dates from 2011 and was inspired by a visit that Sample made in 1995 to St.Croix in the Virgin Islands. He was struck forcibly by the contrast between the blue waters of this idyllic tourist spot and its savage history of slavery still marked by the ruins of the cane plantations. Sample had considered the idea of a suite inspired by the lives of these early slaves - children of the sun, as they were known - and when he was invited by Nils Landgren to write for the NDR Bigband, he decided that larger musical forces would be ideal to realise the music that had been in his mind for many years. This recording is a lasting memorial not just to the people of St.Croix but to Joe Sample's great skill as a composer.

The suite has been arranged by Jorg Achim Keller and is full of catchy melodies, mellow brass and woodwind sounds and enticing rhythms. Sample himself keeps a relatively low profile as a soloist but there are plenty of excellent musicians in the NDR Bigband, as well as guest trombonist Nils Landgren, to contribute good solos when required. And the legendary jazz/rock drummer Steve Gadd is an ideal master of the rhythm section.

The breezy opener I Wanna Go Home, sets the tone with rich brass patterns over a joyful rhythm. Buttermilk Sky has a funky pulse and a jaunty alto sax solo by Peter Bolte. Sample himself solos on Rumfire which has a memorable tune and a lively beat. The composer introduces Gold in the Cane as a reflective piano solo, then hands over to the brass section for an engaging samba tune. I Believe In is another catchy piece with soprano sax and muted trumpet solos. The title track is a feature for Landgren's expressive trombone and there's more of Landgren on the Pink Panther-ish Blue Abyss with Sebastian Gille contributing a suitably rumbling tenor sax solo. The suite concludes on a relaxed, gently swinging note with Albatross Day.

It all adds up to enjoyable, if undemanding, listening and a commendable finale to Joe Sample's distinguished career.

George Stacy

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